What You Need to Know About Plickers

Tech Link Up Image

As teachers we all know how important it is to take the temperature of the room. To figure out if our students are following along and understanding the lesson. But, sometimes that can be difficult – we can do a “thumbs up, thumbs down” or “vote with your feet/toes” or even an every student response with white boards. However, there is an easier, more effective, and more efficient way to do this. There is an app called Plickers that has changed the way I check for understanding in my classroom.

1-class using plickers-001

In this post you will find:

  • Pros & cons to using plickers
  • Ideas for using plickers in your classroom
  • Student reviews about plickers
  • What you need to know in order to use Plickers tomorrow (checklist freebie included)

Plickers Pros

 

Plickers Cons

Ways You Could Use Plickers in Your Classroom and at Your School:

  • formative assessments
  • take the temperature of the room (surveys)
  • self reflection (I use them with this daily outcome recording/reflection sheet)
  • lunch choice count collection
  • check in during rotations (from across the room)
  • staff surveys

2-Students review Plickers-001

I recently did a Periscope tutorial on Plickers. In this 10 minute video you will learn everything you need to know in order to start using Plickers in your classroom tomorrow! You can also use this checklist (a freebie only available to my blog followers/readers) to ensure you’ve done everything you need to do before trying it out (it’s not complicated at all). For other exclusive freebies – be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter!

**If you’ve read this far – you deserve a special tip: I write the letter choices on the back of the Plicker cards (very very small) to help students ensure they put the correct letter choice up)**

I’d love to hear from you!

If you’ve tried Plickers before – let me know what you used it for and how it went in your classroom. If you’ve never tried it – let me know if you’re going to give it a try now…

If you’ve written a blog post on technology in the classroom (doesn’t have to be plickers) — join my link up below. And if you’d like to join up again next month – sign up for my tech link up newsletter here.

MrsB_Final Signature

Thanks to Meg @ Meg’s New Box of Crayons for the awesome conversation hearts stock image.

Advertisements

Metamorphosis in Progress…

logo

I just want to thank you for reading my blog while it undergoes a metamorphosis… I recently changed the title of my blog, from Mrs B (4th Grade Teacher) to Learning Wholeheartedly. Now I’m in the process of updating my blog with my new colors, logo, header, etc. More on that in a little bit, first, I’d like to provide some background on the name change.

I have loved learning for as long as I can remember. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did not always love learning in the traditional sense. Up until 7th grade I was an average student – maybe slightly above average. I was always in the top class, but never really put much effort into my academics until high school. That being said, I was always interested in “self-help” books (now more preferably labeled personal development books). From a very young age I would browse this section of our public library. I have always been hungry to learn new things – especially things that would help me grow as a person. 

I have also always hungered for human connections. I look back on my days at school and although I did not get along with everyone all the time, I did develop friendships with many different groups of people. I believe I’ve always tried to be authentically me, and live wholeheartedly.  As I get older, and read more books and meet more like-minded people, I feel like I’m developing a better understanding what that means. This is also why I’m 100% content with turning 30 years old this year… because I feel more ME than I’ve ever felt!! I can’t wait to share more about this journey of wholehearted living (and teaching – because it definitely comes out in my teaching too) with you. 

This is another reason why I am so grateful to have made the friends that I have made through periscope, blab, instragram, and teachers pay teachers. One of those friends is Ashley (Ms. Idealistic) from Canada.

Ash is one of the most down to earth persicopers that I have had the privilege of getting to know. She also happens to be a tech and design guru!! She hosts a weekly blab with the iteachtvnetwork called Teaching Tech, every Tuesday at 8pm (EST). Ashley is also one of the most generous and helpful people I’ve met! She designed my logo, my header/banner, and my new signature – and has been SO helpful with my whole “rebranding” – giving me great advice and collaborating with me (which is not easy, since I really struggle with making decisions). If you are on the market for a new logo or just want some design or coding advice – please please check out Ms. Idealistic’s shop here!! She is amazing to work with and very reasonably priced!!

I am so excited for the future of this blog and cannot wait to connect with you more and hopefully collaborate with you! If you’re interested in joining my monthly tech link up – you can sign up for the newsletter here, or read more about it here.

I’d also love to get some feedback on my blog as it continues it’s metamorphosis… What do you think of the name change, the new header, logo, etc?

MrsB_Final Signature

How I plan to make 2016 top 2015

January 2gether we are betterOnce upon a time there were two passionate teachers. They shared both a passion for teaching and a passion for creating TPT products. One day, they went on an exciting adventure all the way to Vegas to explore the TPT conference. While they were there they stumbled upon a magical app called Periscope. Periscope made these teachers a little nervous, but it kept calling their names… so, they kept scoping and sharing the excitement from the conference with other teachers in lands far away. Soon… they had started what I like to call #theperiscopeteachertakeoverof2015. When the teachers had returned from their adventure, they decided that teachers need to be more connected – to learn from one another. And so… the #2getherwearebetter blog link up began.

This month we are discussing our plans and goals for 2016.

Incorporate MORE technology (1)

Something that I’m really passionate about, is implementing and using technology in the classroom. I have recently started having my students use the SMARTboard during Math rotations. I have purchased some awesome digital interactive notebooks from the amazing Danielle Knight. I did 1 hour of code with my students, which was awesome! I use Edmodo for guided reading extension lessons/questions/quizzes.

But, I know that I could still do so much more – so my goal is to (first – use the digital interactive notebooks I bought, then) try one new app or website or technology tool a month. Here is one example of an app/website that I think would be awesome for collaboration in the classroom. Padlet is a bulletin board type website, where users can add posts, photographs, voice notes, videos, or files. Whoever creates the padlet can make it private and just share the url with people he/she wants to collaborate with.

Hey — let’s make it official…. I always work better when I have people counting on me. So, I’ll start doing a monthly blog post reviewing the new app/website that I tried out, and how it went in my classroom!

periscope more

I love periscope and always enjoy it when I get on and start scoping…however, I always psyche myself out. My self doubt creeps in “you don’t have anything worthwhile to share” “no one is going to watch”…etc etc.

But, my word of the year is ZONE (more on that later) – so I am going to burst out of my comfort zone this year and just do it. I’m going to be 100% me, and trust that I am worth knowing and that I do have something to offer. It might not be the same type of thing other people have to offer – but that’s even better! I’m one of a kind – as are you! So don’t hold back this year! Put yourself out there with me, be vulnerable and let’s push the boundaries of our comfort zones together!

blog more

As you can see – I am off to a running start, but we all know the beginning of the year is “easy” in terms of keeping up with new goals – but I have a plan for this… which I’ll share in a minute. Blogging has always been something I enjoy – I’ve had 3 blogs in my life. I keep my family in South Africa updated with my adventures in the USA with a weekly blog. I did that for 2 years and then my blogging slowed down quite a bit, finally when I started teaching, it passed away peacefully in its sleep. About 6 years ago I started a very personal blog about my struggles with infertility – but gave it up after about a year because I chose to step away from that community because it was holding me back from finding happiness in the present. Now… I’m trying to get into a groove with blogging about teaching – which I can honestly say is my life’s passion and calling.

**I just watched an awesome periscope by Bri Miller about the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Bri mentioned how our fear of not fitting in can hold us back from truly being ourselves or putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable. She also spoke about how we are all vulnerable in different ways – some people may be able to connect with others via video, or in person, or through blogging. I totally had an “ah ha” moment. Being truly vulnerable on periscope is hard for me, but here… on my blog – it is so easy. I am so grateful for that scope tonight – because it made me realize that we truly are all different, and even the way we connect with people could be different, and it’s okay – it’s actually more than okay, it’s something to celebrate! Our differences! **

small goal

This is a small goal because I’m not 100% sure yet if TPT is going to be something I commit a lot of time to. I haven’t spent enough time on making products to really know. So, really my goal is to make more products to see if this is something I am good at, and enjoy. I’m going to start by making products that I need for my students, and see how it goes from there. I’ve already made 2 simple products today to use with my students next week – I just need to make covers, etc and I can post them. I’ll be happy with 2 quality products a month to start with. Once I get into a groove, I hope to be able to exceed that goal.

Plan

  • Single tasking (focusing on one simple task at a time for an allocated number of time – this is a great app for this!)
  • Using a notebook to record ideas and inspriations
  • goal sheet to set weekly goals
  • Using my phone’s calendar to schedule all social media chats, weekly or monthly periscopes and blabs as well as gym classes, lesson planning and time for ME!! I am going to use this to also plan out some periscopes – to ensure that I have no excuse not to scope more often!

My new monthly blog about technology will help keep me accountable for trying something new every month. Maybe I’ll make it a link up… except I’ve never done that before, and not sure how to, or if it’s even possible with WordPress…if you know – I’d love you forever if you let me know in the comments. Also, if you’d be interested in joining a link up like this – let me know.

I also started a Facebook group with some other teachers to help share blog ideas and to keep one another accountable for blogging at least twice a month. If you are interested in joining the group – just let me know and we can connect.

New Year Blog Challenge

The last thing I want to share is my #otw (one little word) for 2016. Ali Edwards started this project, on her website she says “[in] 2006 I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January – a word to focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life.” Here is my word for 2016 – it reflects how I want to not be afraid to be vulnerable and how I want to be more productive and goal focused.

HAPPY NOTES.png

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you are interested in joining our #teacherblogchallenge2016 facebook group. Also, if you would be interested in joining a monthly link up to share your experiences trying some new technology in your classroom, let me know. I’d also love to hear what your goals are for 2016! 

>>If you’d like to join the link up – click the banner at the top of this post.

 

small signature

So long 2015…the year I found myself

Reflecting on 2015

 

This year has been such a blessing… It’s definitely one that will go down in the books, along with the year I came to the USA, and the year I got married.

On Tuesday I did a periscope (@bonbrad) challenge, which was started by the always insightful The Whimsical Teacher. I’ll use a similar format for my reflection here.

Things that went well in 2015

Connecting with teachers via Periscope and Twitter

So many things have come from #theperiscopeteachertakeoverof2015. I was able to connect with like-minded teachers from all around the world. Through these teachers’ generosity and support, I’ve realized that I can accomplish great things! I’ve always sat on the sidelines and thought “I don’t have anything worthwhile to offer on tpt” or “anything I write on a blog will never help other teachers” or “the classrooms I’ve seen around here aren’t like THAT..I can’t do that”  or “teachers here don’t do things like that”.

Thanks to connecting with these teachers I now believe in myself and my potential as a teacher and a lifelong learner. I have started to step out of my comfort zone and started pushing myself towards greatness (I still have a very long way to go). But, I have found my tribe!

Now, not only are these teachers providing me with support and self confidence – but they are full of some AMAZING ideas!!! I’m constantly learning from them and being inspired!

Discovering the Ron Clark Academy (RCA)

Ron Clark was Disney teacher of the year ages ago, and appeared on Oprah after that. There was a movie made about him, starring Matthew Perry (it’s a must watch and definitely a tear jerker). He started his own school in downtown Atlanta Georgia – and it is the type of school all teachers DREAM about working at. There is an app and some of the amazing teachers who work there have blogs and are on periscope! Hope King (Elementary Shenanigans) and Kim Bearden (co-founder of RCA) are two of my favorites. This school and Ron’s journey are a huge inspiration to me – to be bold and not hide my passion! When you think of people who think/teach outside of the box — these teachers think/teach outside of this galaxy!!

Finding a balance

It is my third year teaching and my second year as a 4th grade teacher. My first year was pretty stressful on me and my marriage. I spent a lot of late nights at school and said yes to any and all social invitations (when you don’t have any friends (besides your hubby) within thousands of miles, you’ll do anything to connect). My second year I spent very little extra time at school… I was inspired by another teacher to just leave work after work. Two things made this easier to do: I was in a portable, which is scary when it gets dark, and we had planning in the morning, before any instructing – so there was little pressure to work after hours. I still accepted any and all social invitations. This year… I have found a much better balance – I only stay late twice a week at the most, and I still don’t do as much work at home as I did in my first year. I am a much happier teacher this year!!

Things that did not go well in 2015

Blogging

Even though I created this blog over the summer, and promised that I was going to be more present here, I failed miserably! I have not posted once since the school year started – and so many things have been happening in my room!!

Inspiration overload

I have been inspired by so many teachers and have had so many great ideas “coming at me” this summer and at the beginning of the school year, that I think I have been a little frozen. I’ve definitely tried a lot of things and have had great success – but I’ve also not put as much effort into my lesson planning as I should. I think I’ve been trying so many cool things that I started to think “hmmm… you know what, I try my best and work very hard, that’s all I can offer – my best.” But in reality, I have a lot more to offer and I’ve not been trying my absolute best. 

Jack of many trades, master of none

I feel like my love of learning can sometimes be a bad thing. If I don’t channel my energy, I take on way too much. This year I joined the gym, I started (and stopped) running, I started playing around with hand lettering and doodling, I started a tpt store, I tried to start this blog, I set a reading goal (to read 50 books)… I am not good at any of that stuff #yet!! I think if I had focused on one thing – I would have at least mastered it enough to then take on another new adventure. 

People who inspired me this year

  • Amy Harris (She is such a genuine person and has been amazing in terms of welcoming me into her circle of friends. She has also inspired me in so many ways – as a teacher, a learner, and a person.)
  • Hope King (I mentioned her earlier – she is SUCH a passionate teacher who has helped me understand and accept that it is okay to “bring your work home”. She has also changed the way I look at lesson planning…she’s the teacher I want to be when I grow up.)
  • The Whimsical Teacher (I also mentioned her earlier, but Jess is such a unique person and spirit. She has such a kind heart and is so generous and supportive of people. I have learned so much from her with regard to tpt, teaching, and how to be 100% you – no matter what. She is definitely my cup of tea, and I will take a bottomless cup thank you very much!!)
  • Sheila Jane (This woman is a power house. She is support epitomized. She is the biggest teacher cheerleader. I’m not sure how she fits everything she does into her schedule, but she pops up constantly, cheering teachers on and encouraging them relentlessly. She makes me feel like I can make a difference by encouraging other people – one person can make a HUGE difference via social media.)
  • Mr. Chris Wooleyhand (He’s a local principal here and we met at an EdCamp – he insisted **cough** I mean encouraged me to get back into twitter, and I haven’t looked back. Twitter chats have helped me connect and collaborate with both local and distant teachers who may not be on periscope. He’s also super supportive and encouraging – making me feel like I have some insight worth sharing. He even asked me to collaborate on a blog he wrote, which meant a lot to me.)
  • Brenda Schoener (I did not know Brenda well, I only met her a few times – but her legacy is such an inspiration. Again, she proves that one person can make a significant difference in the lives of many people. She passed away a month ago after a long battle with cancer. I got to know her better through the stories her children shared at the memorial as well as the photographs that were shared. I also learned that she had a love for feathers…and I have always loved feathers, but could never really explain why. Now- this love (and all the feathers I’ve collected) will forever be a reminder of this Godly woman and her legacy.)

 

Thanks for joining me as I reflected on 2015… to find out how I plan to learn from my mistakes of 2015 (aka the things that did not go well), you’ll have to tune in on January 2nd. I’ll be linking up with Ashley and Angie for the #2getherwearebetter January blog post.

Before you leave… what is something that went well for you in 2015? Something that did not go well? And who inspired you this year?

Signature

Five for Friday

Five for Friday doodle bugs teachingI’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday…. my first one!

Five for friday 1Something that has occupied most of my week has been Teachers Pay Teachers. I got 3 sales this week – my first sales ever!! Which made me feel pressure to improve the product, as I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to make the Homework Binder Inserts editable so that teachers could personalize it to match their homework policies. I’ve finished it and am just waiting to hear back from a seller whose product I would love to include in the pack. As soon as I hear back, I will post the revision!

**revision is up**

Here is a sneak peak in the meantime! Homework Binder preview watermarkedI also added a math homework menu, for those days/weeks when things get crazy and you can’t run worksheets or find a valuable activity that students can complete independently. As well as an extra spelling menu – I plan to switch out the menu half way through the year to change things up.

five for friday 2

lettering

I love to draw and doodle, and hubby even bought me these awesome pens and black notebook for Valentines Day this year. I haven’t done much in the book, partly because of time, and partly because of hesitation and fear I guess. BUT….not anymore!!! I watched one of my favorite periscopers yesterday and she did a quick lettering tutorial – which totally inspired me!! She recommended this youtube channel and I’ve already watched a couple of the lettering tutorials. I’m totally hooked, and cannot wait to “fancy up” my anchor charts and other classroom posters, etc!!

five for friday 3

I was lucky enough to attend the ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence this summer, for the second year in a row. Once again – I’ve come away with so many great ideas!! Last year I focused on two things, explicitly teaching grit and trying to incorporate teaching strategies that would help boys succeed in the classroom. They were my 2 biggest takeaways from that year.

This year, I have a three BiG takeaways:

#1 Providing consistent and meaningful feedback

#2 Keep students engaged in their learning through reflecting on objectives, learning, and effort.

#3 Pacing (which goes hand-in-hand with student engagement)

Providing timely feedback can be the most challenging thing for a teacher – especially when you have more than 20 students (which is not often the case in our Title 1 school). The presenter of the session on feedback said that it has been scientifically proven that in order for feedback to be meaningful – you have a 2 day window. Otherwise, the student will actually have to relearn the material as opposed to simply making corrections or clarifying their understanding.

With this, and takeaway #2, in mind, I created goal accounting templates (I like to call them student objective tracking/reflection recording sheets, because that is what they are.) This will help provide 1 of 3 types of feedback – reflective feedback. Expert feedback is provided by the teacher, and clarifying/indirect feedback is peer feedback (which you could have students engage in during turn and talk).

I plan to make the goal sheets part of my every day routine to either have the students jot down the objective, or provide them with it on a label to stick in (if I know I’ll be short on time). Students then rate their level of understanding, between 1 and 4. After the lesson, they go back and rate their effort (1-4) and their level of understanding now. Eventually they will record their assessment results for that objective/goal.

Below is an example of different ways students could write the objective – they do not need to write the whole thing out if you’re pressed for time or have students who struggle writing neatly.

objective sheet watermarked

five for friday 4

wedding pic watermarked

This picture was taken a week ago – at my bestie’s wedding! It was such a fun-filled day and night!!

My number 4 is my fourth grade team. I work with ladies that I can truly call some of my best friends!! I love each of them as people and professionals. We are all so different, and have different styles of teaching, but we work so well together. I dread the day that we get separated, which is probably inevitable…. but, until that time comes – I pledge to enjoy every day working with them and learning from and with them!!

five for friday 5  My number 5 is simple: Periscope!

Periscope has changed my life. And I don’t say that to sound dramatic, I’m serious!! I’ve followed teacher blogs before and follow teachers on instagram, etc…. periscope is different. It makes the people behind the blogs and instagram accounts real…

Through watching teachers on periscope, I have realized my own personal gifts and talents as a teacher. It has given me confidence to step out of my comfort zone and try things that I didn’t think were “for me” – such as teachers pay teachers, a teacher blog, hand lettering….

It has also given me the freedom to really push myself and be the best I can be. When you’re in your own teaching bubble, it can be difficult to push yourself. I know that for me, at my school (and I’m sure it’s the same at many of your schools) the job is so challenging and emotionally draining because of the wonderful little people we teach. Teaching is only the tip of the iceberg with these kiddos. That being said, there is a culture of “you have to take care of yourself” or “I can’t put extra time into this job, i have a family/life/stress that needs attention” at schools. Sometimes this makes me feel like I shouldn’t be putting in extra effort – because it’s not the norm…. and I’m not saying that we should put our jobs before our families, or our own mental, physical, or emotional health…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I truly LOVE teaching, I LOVE planning, I LOVE going to professional developments, I LOVE trying new things/intiatives in the classroom, I LOVE it all….. so why should I feel guilty for putting in extra time and effort?

Periscope has connected me with many like-minded teachers (not that there aren’t any at my school — there are plenty!!) who are wonder women! They give me hope that I too can find a balance between being the best teacher I can be, and having a separate life!

If you’re still reading – thank you!!

Please let me know what you think in the comments – I’m interested to know if I’m the only who feels/felt this way!

Have a great weekend!!

Slide1