Monday, October 5, 2020


 I open my Zoom "door" at 8:40 a.m. every morning. Alexa helps me stay on track. My planning period is at 8 a.m., and sometimes, as you know, we get wrapped up in what we are doing and lose track of time.

Any way, one day as I was immersed  in the Bitmoji  FB group, and I came across a digital "Waiting Room."("Sharing is caring!"). 

 I was like, this is so cool, I want this for my students. I did what I so often do, I copied it and modified it a little. It had the rules, like "Mute Yourself" , a cool electronic timer, a Bitmoji character, and these really cool colors.

Well, a few days later a colleague of mine shared another digital "Waiting Room". No rules. Just a welcoming place to start the morning. And I was like, this is so cool, I want THIS for my students. And of course I copied it and modified it, but I kept the welcoming spirit of it, no rules like, "Mute Yourself."

So now, I have a very cool "Waiting Room". It has the very cool electronic timer, our Quote of the Week, our tools for the day, and of course, my Bitmoji character. (Don't tell anyone, but I change her clothes every week).😉I add messages when necessary.

My 5th graders hang out in there for 5 minutes before class starts. I am muted and my video is off, and that's their time. I sit in front of the screen, with my headset on, chilling, listening. And yes, they know I am there.

Sometimes they talk to each other, most times they don't. Except for my one darling who gets on, bright and cheerful every morning, and gives everyone a rundown of whatever he chooses. Every morning. It makes my day, his innocence.

Update: They talked to him today! Persistance is everything!:)

This was an easy way to make their mornings a little easier in this virtual environment. 💖

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Digital "Getting to Know You" IceBreakers

It's time to go back to school.

And whether you are face-to face or virtual, making connections with your students is vital.

Here are a few digital  ideas for getting to know your students and/or letting your students get to know you. 

The great thing about BINGOBaker is that there are thousands of ready-made cards or you can create your own BINGO. You can post images, text, and numbers on the BINGO card. 
There is a $14.99 LIFETIME fee if you want all the extras. I chose to go with the extras, which are very cool! There are also very simple directions on how to set it up and play on the site. (Looking at my old posts I realized I had written about Bingobaker in 2013)

You will want to generate your own card for this one. If you are creating  a teacher card, you can post numbers, images, and text that apply to you. As you and your students play, talk about some of the things so your kids get to know you. It is a lot of fun! 

You can also create a student one using information you gather from your students. Use Google Forms, Padlet, or Google Slides to get information from them. You will learn a lot about them in a short amount of time, and have fun doing it!

Sample of a 3 X 3 grid.

2. Quizizz, Kahoot, or Gimkit Game
I like making these so my kids could see how much they actually think they know about me.:) 
These three games all have the same quiz game format.All of them are FREE, but Kahoot and Gimkit have a premium version. FREE works.
When you play Kahoot, you will have to share your screen during a a live game.
Quizizz and Gimkit can be played live by sharing the code. 
They can all be played by students on their own.

After you look them over, you can decide which one is best for you. 
My students love Gimkit because they can "make" money. 
After playing the Teacher game, make sure you give the students a chance to ask you questions about what they learned.
Here's a sample of my "How Well Do You Know Mrs. Mims?"

And of course, these games can be adapted by inputting student info so the kids could learn about each other.

Teachers and students do not need an account. This makes it easy to play a game with your students. The students just input the required code.I love the fact that I could add rounds. Reminds me of Jeopardy in quiz form. If you want to use it for quizzes, keep in mind that it doesn't save data. I created a "How Well Do You Know Mrs.Mims?", but using rounds. The first round is "Favorites", next round is "Numbers", etc...

4. JeopardyLabs - Online Jeopardy
Who doesn't love Jeopardy? 
JeopardyLabs has thousands of pre-made games. There is a $20 LIFETIME fee, which I feel is worth it.
This is more of a "Getting to Know the School/Class" game. I usually don't play it until the second week of school.
I add classroom procedure, staff, etc...
I let the kids work in teams, (team-building), and they have a great time.
Of course, if you are virtual, you will have to share your screen.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Reopening Schools: A Decision to Die For!

Would I die for my students? 
Teachers have placed themselves in harm's way for their students countless times.

But, not like this.
Not in a situation where decisions could be made that would keep our students and educators safe. 

A 61 year old educator in Arizonza was infected with COVID19, along  with two other educators who were working in the same classroom.  She died.They still don't know if she got it from her family, and bought it into the classroom, or if she contracted it from another teacher.

It doesn't matter. With all the precautions, all three teachers were still infected.

Our "Secretary of Education" Besty Devos states that we shouldn't worry.
“If there’s a short-term flare-up for a few days, that’s a different situation than planning for an entire school year in anticipation for something that hasn’t happened,” she told CNN host Dana Bash. “Kids have got to be back at school, they’ve got to be back in the classroom. Working families have got to have their kids back in school.”

What do you notice? 
I notice that she does not mention the fact that educators or school personnel can get sick. I notice that she is worried about two things. Kids have to go to school and their working parents need to have them in school. No education personnel are mentioned.

What do you wonder?
I wonder if she cares if educators, or any staff member,that works in the school, becomes ill or dies?
I wonder if she thinks we are dispensable?

I dislike remote learning. Intensely. 
I miss seeing the kids face to face. 
But none of those emotions are reasons to be sent into a classroom when our safety cannot be guaranteed. A situation where there are more questions than answers.

My heart bleeds for the teacher who has to go to work. It's easy to say don't go. 
But when you have to feed your family, the rent or mortgage is due, the bills have to be paid, and you are told to report to work, what are your options?
Take a minute to read this article from NEA,"Returning Safely to In-Person Instruction:What Educators Need to Know" to get an idea of what your rights are.

Remember the good old days?
March 2020? 
Everyone thought teachers were heroes? 
Now they want us to be martyrs.
Would I die for my students? Probably.
But not from  COVID-19.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Shut Up and Teach!:Silence is Golden?

This tweet. (See below)
When I read it, someone else had retweeted it, the first thing that stood out to me was her use of the simile, "like wild animals." Hmmmm.....

So she, and I am sure she is not the only one, has a problem, because educators aren't being silent about the issues America has with systemic racism. Educators had the audacity to bring what is happening in the world into #Edutwitter! Gasp!

She doesn't believe that educators should post their anger, sadness, their emotions, that they should continue to "share resources and build each other up, and model digital citizenship." (She said model digital citizenship and then compared educators to wild animals)

WTH? ANOTHER black man was killed by a police officer!!!!! 

And the world exploded. The world!

And educators should continue to just share resources and ignore the fact that the world is changing? Eyes are being opened?  Why shouldn't this happen on #Edutwitter? We are teaching black and brown children, and they need an ally.
Sharing resources is not all there is.

We should be sharing, even if it makes people uncomfortable, sharing how to be antiracist, sharing how we are feeling, and sharing ideas on what can be done to help the situation.

When I read this tweet, I immediately thought of  Laura Ingraham telling Lebron to "shut up and dribble."

Fortunately, educators are not being silent. They are speaking out, they are using their voices. 

We will not "shut up and teach.", we will not turn a blind eye to what is happening, and we will definitely not be silent!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

This Remote Teaching/Learning Thing!

Just a hodgepodge of thoughts/opinions here!
Thank goodness I have always been a fan of integrating tech in my classroom, that has made this remote teaching/learning situation a WHOLE lot less stressful for me! Whew!

However, I feel for teachers who were not prepared for this, and find it very difficult to navigate this terrain. Especially when it just happened out of nowhere, there was no time to prepare, the expectations are crazy(in some places), and companies are coming at you.Buy/Use my Distance/Remote/Virtual Learning tool! Take my Distance/Remote/Virtual webinar!

If you are an educator showing what you are doing during this time in order to help others, thank you. If you are "showing off?" STOP. You are making other teachers feel "less than."  Have you seen the "Not Every Teacher" image?

Why would someone think it was a good idea to have teachers create a classroom setting virtually? I mean the "sit in front of the kids for hours" type of setting?

Why would teachers give kids SO much work? Especially middle school and high school? Is it required?

Why are kids with devices not completing assignments? My friend had to talk me down from stressing about this. Almost there.

We need to do something to make the education system equitable. I read where some students are still waiting for devices. In April, I mean May?  I am fortunate to work in a district where we were already 1:1. They made sure every kid who needed a device got one. And no, I do not teach in a wealthy district.

I went into this thing thinking I was going to teach 3 subjects a day,  I got over that quickly. Now, I do one subject a day for about an hour. I use what I think will engage. I start with Morning Meeting,(I got this template from Matt Bergman), and edited it.I do a little activity. A fun example, my students love Estimation Clipboard, very cool Math Estimation slides. And then I teach ELA or Math.

I decided I am going to start Math with a Mystery Science video, I miss teaching Science. My kids miss Science.School has to be more than ELA and Math. Nearpod and I are besties. My other buddies are Classdojo, Scholastic Online, Gimkit, Jognog(Not for long though, my FREEBIE is expiring-Boo hoo), Quizizz, and Quizlet, just to name a few.

But those links mean nothing without my kids. The majority come faithfully, even if most don't work outside of "class." It gives us a little bit of "normalcy", I guess. They are pretty quiet, so I let them use the chat to participate. I don't care if they wear a hoodie, or wrap up in a blanket, or show the top of their head. I don't require video, but if you don't answer or answer in the chat, after a while I do know you are not actually there. smh. I do share my screen, so they can show their work, but I switch it right back!

I do let them know I will not compete with their cell phone or television. Choose. One of my students wrote in the chat, "I choose class." I caught him looking up at the television. Does he not realize teachers have these uncanny powers?

I use Zoom. Yes, even after the panic. Zoom was not created for educators. They were not ready. But they quickly adapted and put security into place that has protected me and my kiddos.There is no perfect tool. Hackers will be hackers. Use the waiting room, the password, don't let anyone share your screen...

This remote teaching/learnming thing has taught me some things.
Robots will never take over teaching.
I miss my my classroom with the kids in it. :(

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